The elections of Republican Mike Johnson as US Speaker of the House is bad news for Ukraine

By bne IntelliNews October 26, 2023

US President Joe Biden congratulated Republican Mike Johnson on his election as Speaker of the House of Representatives on October 25 and urged him to facilitate the adoption of additional funding in Congress as soon as possible, including for Ukraine.

The new Speaker immediately warned that while he is open to “negotiations” on aid to Ukraine, any talks will come "with conditions," according to NBC.

"We want accountability, and we want objectives that are clear from the White House. But we're going to have those discussions. It will be very productive," he said.

Johnson received the overwhelming support from the Republican party, garnering 220 votes, which allowed him to surpass Democrat Hakeem Jeffries' 209 votes. But this is bad news for Ukraine. Johnson is a Ukraine hawk and has voted against all the measures to support Ukraine in its war against Russia bar one – the first vote to enact a lend-lease deal to supply Ukraine.

In 2023, Johnson voted against a Ukrainian aid package, claiming, "we should not send another $40bn abroad when chaos reigns at our border, American mothers are barely finding food for their babies, gas prices are at record levels, and American families can hardly make ends meet — and there's insufficient control over where the money will go.”

 

Ukraine’s war funding is increasingly in doubt. US financial aid to Ukraine has been de facto suspended since Johnson’s predecessor was voted out of office two weeks ago. A $300mn allocation for Ukraine was attached to an emergency spending bill to prevent a government shutdown, but had to be removed to get the spending bill through.

Subsequently, Biden has introduced a new $106bn spending bill that links support for Israel’s war with Hamas and Ukraine’s with Russia in the hope that it will be more palatable for Republicans.

“I’ve prepared a historic supplemental funding package that advances our bipartisan national security interests in Israel and Ukraine, secures our border, and invests in the American people. These priorities have been endorsed by leaders in both parties,” Biden said.

But even this bill, which earmarks $61.4bn for Ukraine, has seen reductions: the initial budget support of $1.1bn per month is slated to be decreased to $825mn per month, as part of the White House's recalibration of financial assistance to Ukraine. The House is expected to vote on the bill in the coming weeks.

However, radical Republicans are becoming increasingly opposed to spending more money on the Ukrainian war.

White House has been trying to sell Ukraine aid as an economic boon at home. It reportedly asked Ukraine-sympathetic Congress members from both parties to present military support for Kyiv as a way to bring new jobs to Americans, the news outlet said, citing undisclosed presidential aides and lawmakers, Kyiv Independent reports.

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